Applegate Fire District Levy Renewal on November Ballot

, Posted: Mon, October 21 2013 at 5:35 PM, Updated: Mon, October 21 2013 at 6:23 PM

Longer response times and a hit to the recruiting and training of volunteer firefighters...that's what the Applegate Valley Fire District is facing unless a levy renewal is passed this November. 

Everyone we spoke with on Monday expressed support for the levy.

However, Applegate Fire officials are crossing their fingers for a green light to keep a 24-hour staff person on duty to respond to emergencies.

In November, voters in Josephine and Jackson counties will have to make a decision on whether or not to support renewing a levy for Applegate Fire, a district largely made up of volunteer firefighters. It's intended to help keep the district funded over the next five years.

"This makes up a third of our operating funds it takes to run this place," said Applegate Fire Chief Brett Fillis.

He said if the levy isn't renewed, the 24-hour coverage out of the Ruch station would probably go away.

In addition, he said with such a large area to cover, losing a 24-hour staffing position would be devastating.

"We are a very large, geographically large district. We're both counties, 181 square miles," said Chief Fillis.

That means if the levy fails, many people could see increased response times in an emergency.

"Particularly [affecting] those medical calls where a minute or two or three makes a huge difference."

If the levy passes, property owners would pay 92-cents per $1000 of assessed property value. As a guideline, if a home is assessed at  $300,000 the homeowner would pay roughly $276 per year.

"It's a service that we need out here. It's gonna make the difference between life or death for many local residents," said Sonja Matlock who lives in Ruch.

"Without them we'd be in deep trouble," said Robert Trottmann, who is also a Ruch resident.

Meanwhile, officials at the Applegate Fire District hope to avoid trouble of their own as they try to make sure they can help people who need it and keep afloat financially at the same time.

Fire Chief Fillis said the first levy was passed in 1998 and was $1 for every $1000 of assessed property value. Two subsequent levy  requests for 85-cents per $1000 of assessed property value passed in 2002 and 2008. This time around, officials are asking for seven-cents more than what residents are currently paying because costs are going up and that's what they need to maintain current service levels.

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